Is It Unchristian To Think That Jesus Talked About Economics?
The Christian conversation about the life of Jesus has tended to default to the theological intent of His actions. In other words, Christ was came to save us from our sins. Those are matters of the telos, the purpose of His life, in the eyes of the Father.
But other forces (Tax Collectors, Rabbis, Herodians, Romans) had different purposes (money, power, survival). The historical facts about their motivations do not contradict the theological truths about God’s intentions. For example, the Gospels clearly say that the Sadducees at least partly wanted Jesus killed because He had become a threat to their livelihoods. But this in no way conflicts with the way that Jesus intended to turn their evil actions to a good purpose.
Some truths are on different levels from other truths. I point this out because sometimes when I talk to people about the economic dimensions of the Gospels, someone might get upset, because they think the economic level of explanation is being used to replace the theological level. It’s obvious that these are not in conflict. But for some reason people occasionally view political, historical, material, and economic analysis as though it is an attempt to replace historic Christian doctrine.
But I would argue the opposite: that the historic doctrine of the incarnation (God taking on human nature) helps us to see all elements of His human nature operating in the Gospel accounts. If He put on human nature, and not just a human body, then he put on every aspect of human life except sin. The view that he only took on a human body but not a full human mind is known as the heresy Apollinarism. The two ancient creeds which focus the most on the doctrine of the incarnation (the Athanasian Creed and the Chalcedonian Creed) both teach that the Son took on both human body and mind. Here’s a quote from the Chalcedonian Creed, which is the ancient statement of doctrine which focused the most on the Incarnation:
“We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable (rational) soul and body; consubstantial (coessential) with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin…”
Jesus had a reasonable, that is thinking, soul. Other than sin, He is ‘in all things like unto us’. When He took on a body and a mind, he also took on a family, a village, a nation, its history. That includes the social and economic relationships that humans have. This view is not heresy; it is orthodoxy.
I wrote at greater length about it in this article (from which some sections above were adapted).
We have established the importance of historical detail, including economic and financial detail and now that we have established that taking these things into account is not in any way discouraged by sound theological doctrine, but rather encouraged by it. Next, we’ll take a deeper dive into the details and see what fruit they yield.
Originally published on Townhall Finance.
Jerry Bowyer is a Forbes contributor, contributing editor of AffluentInvestor.com, and Senior Fellow in Business Economics at The Center for Cultural Leadership.
Jerry has compiled an impressive record as a leading thinker in finance and economics. He worked as an auditor and a tax consultant with Arthur Anderson, as Vice President of the Beechwood Company which is the family office associated with Federated Investors, and has consulted in various privatization efforts for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He founded the influential economic think tank, the Allegheny Institute, and has lectured extensively at universities, businesses and civic groups.
Jerry has been a member of three investment committees, among which is Benchmark Financial, Pittsburgh’s largest financial services firm. Jerry had been a regular commentator on Fox Business News and Fox News. He was formerly a CNBC Contributor, has guest-hosted “The Kudlow Report”, and has written for CNBC.com, National Review Online, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as many other publications. He is the author of The Bush Boom and more recently The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide, published by HarperCollins. Jerry is the President of Bowyer Research.
Jerry consulted extensively with the Bush White House on matters pertaining to the recent economic crisis. He has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, The International Herald Tribune and various local newspapers. He has been a contributing editor of National Review Online, The New York Sun and Townhall Magazine. Jerry has hosted daily radio and TV programs and was one of the founding members of WQED’s On-Q Friday Roundtable. He has guest-hosted the Bill Bennett radio program as well as radio programs in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
Jerry is the former host of WorldView, a nationally syndicated Sunday-morning political talk show created on the model of Meet The Press. On WorldView, Jerry interviewed distinguished guests including the Vice President, Treasury Secretary, HUD Secretary, former Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice, former Presidential Advisor Carl Rove, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and publisher Steve Forbes.
Jerry has taught social ethics at Ottawa Theological Hall, public policy at Saint Vincent’s College, and guest lectured at Carnegie Mellon’s graduate Heinz School of Public Policy. In 1997 Jerry gave the commencement address at his alma mater, Robert Morris University. He was the youngest speaker in the history of the school, and the school received more requests for transcripts of Jerry’s speech than at any other time in its 120-year history.
Jerry lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Susan, and the youngest three of their seven children.